Members of Dr. Darren Hartl’s research group, graduate students Jacob Mingear and Brent Bielefeldt, and junior Jessica Zamarripa, won the 2018 ASME Ephrahim Garcia Best Paper Award for their paper titled “Towards High-Frequency Shape Memory Alloy Actuators Incorporating Liquid Metal Energy Circuits” at SMASIS 2018 in San Antonio this last month.
The Ephrahim Garcia Best Paper Award has been established in memory of Professor Garcia’s extraordinary contributions in scholarship, education, and service to the field of smart materials and adaptive structures. Professor Garcia passed away in late 2014 and was a leading faculty member at Cornell University. Professor Garcia was said to have a “huge heart” and was a steadfast supporter of smart materials research and education. Dr. Hartl remembers him as “the kind of guy that could speak bluntly about the state of the art, but who always spoke with positive passion about our field.”
The winning paper focused on increasing the actuation frequency of shape memory alloy (SMA) actuators by using multifunctional room-temperature liquid metal energy circuit embedded into an SMA actuator. The liquid metal energy circuit can heat the SMA via induction heating, similar to the operational principle of a stove cooktop. This drives the SMA actuator to perform work. Then, cooled liquid metal can be flowed through the channel to quickly cool down the SMA actuator, readying the device for another round of actuation. At high enough actuation frequencies, SMA actuators could be able to replace heavy hydraulic or electrical motor systems in aerospace applications and elsewhere.